How Secret Tunnels, Intrigue and Illicit History Define San Angelo
Under the streets of San Angelo lie secrets. These secrets are as winding and mysterious as the many tunnels that have been discovered. Some of these tunnels have garnered international discussion.
Sure, there are those who say San Angelo is a quiet city. Its history is quite different. Some of the more interesting histories are beginning to see the light of day as tunnels are being discovered under the city.
The most intriguing tunnels run under what was originally Historic Block 1. It is said that women would come downtown to shop. Men would travel the underground tunnels to visit bordellos.
In 2017, KGKL did an interview with Barbara Strain who stumbled across tunnels under her businesses in downtown San Angelo. Strain, who owns Jessie Rose Mercantile and Sassy Fox was excited about her discoveries.
Many of the underground tunnels of San Angelo led to San Angelo's now-famous bordello. Today, Miss Hatties is a world-class museum that details the history of San Angelo's most famous bordello. Although what is known as Miss Hatties today was a bank.
For 50 years until Texas Rangers closed them down, Miss Hattie's bordello entertained the men of Wild West San Angelo. Some of the men would leave their wives in the carriage while they went into the bank to do business. Often, their "business" also led them through these underground tunnels to the bordellos.
A few doors down where Legend Jeweler stands was the location of the bordello on the top floor. There are also tunnels in the basement of the building across the street which is now Jessie Rose Mercantile. In 1884 it was John Fitzpatrick Saloon. There are four blocked-off and boarded-up sections which look like entryways to the tunnels.
There are many stories about the tunnels. Some say many were lost in a flood in 1936. Some of the tunnels were used to store horses underground some Native Americans wouldn't steal them. Of course, during the Prohibition Era, everyone was hiding their booze.
Some of the more sordid stories of the tunnels involve families who are still alive and do not wish to have their ancestors' names dragged through the dark mud at the bottom of these tunnels.
There haven't been any updates lately on what is going on in these tunnels. Barbara Strain says due to Covid, efforts to excavate the tunnels were put on hold. They have not resumed. Perhaps, as life continues to get back to normal after the pandemic, the efforts to find out more can resume.
In any event, the saga of San Angelo's tunnels adds a lot of intrigue to the rich history of a city that is full of Wild West allure. It certainly makes San Angelo's story that much more interesting.